The American winners of a worldwide competition to find the next big travel superstar are ‘coming home’ to New Zealand later this year to reunite with their Kiwi family.
Alex and Marko Ayling from San Diego won MyDestination.com’s ‘Biggest, Baddest, Bucket List’ competition and are currently on a life-changing, all-expenses-paid, six month round the world trip based around their own bucket list.
The brothers are also acting as ambassadors and reporters for the My Destination brand, earning $50,000(US) for their considerable efforts on completion of their journey, which will end on December 24 in Rotorua.
Alex and Marko hand-picked their entire six-month prize trip – including 25 ‘bucket list’ destinations - and chose New Zealand as the closing chapter of their incredible journey so they could reunite with their New Zealand family and find out more about their heritage.
Their father, Robert Ayling, was born in Napier, grew up in Taradale and studied law at Victoria University before leaving to travel the world at the age of 27.
“He met our mom Jill, a Californian stewardess, on a train in Switzerland. She asked to have a look at his map, he invited her to travel with him, and the rest is history. They moved to California and have been here since 1980,” said Marko.
Robert has been the Honorary Consul of New Zealand in San Diego since 1995.
The brothers’ twelve-day trip to New Zealand will start in Queenstown on December 13 2013 and include trips to Wellington, Auckland and Rotorua. The brothers will be showcasing New Zealand to the world as a ‘must-visit’ tourism destination via regular blogs, videos, articles, social media posts and media interviews.
Alex and Marko said the chance to come to New Zealand and “find their roots” was an amazing opportunity and the “perfect end” to their tour of the world.
“Our family first came to New Zealand in 1875 when Nathaniel Ayling left Gravesend in London,” said the brothers.
“Unfortunately his wife Mary Mann died en route and was buried at sea. After a 144-day passage aboard the ship Adamant, Nathaniel arrived in Invercargill with his eight children, one of whom was our great-great-grandfather.”
“We’re just so excited to be coming to New Zealand, a country that we have a strong connection with. We won the competition in London and just like our ancestors did, our journey from London will be complete when we reach New Zealand”.
“With the help of the My Destination New Zealand team, we’ve lined up some typically Kiwi activities such as Bungy jumping, sailing an America’s Cup boat and experiencing a traditional Maori hangi and cultural show, but we’re also looking forward to meeting the locals and getting behind the scenes of each of the places we’ll visit.
“In our eyes that’s the real way to see anywhere, talk to the locals.”
The brothers have earned themselves a great online following and with the trip now firmly underway and North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia already ‘ticked off’, they’re looking forward to New Zealand.
My Destination New Zealand Managing Director, Mike Watt said he was “extremely privileged” that the brothers chose New Zealand as one of their Biggest Baddest Bucket List destinations.
“Of all the countries in the world they could have visited they chose New Zealand as their final destination. It’s quite an honour,” said Mr Watt.
“My Destination is all about tapping into local knowledge to offer the best guide to an area and highlighting those quirky places and activities that might not be an obvious choice for travellers.
“With our sites dedicated to Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, we’ve been able to create an itinerary that’s a fitting finale to their epic adventure,” said Mr Watt.
“I can’t wait to see what the boys come up with. It’ll be great to showcase New Zealand to the world from their eyes.”
The global travel competition launched by My Destination in January 2013, invited contestants to submit a three minute video and showcase the unique aspects of their favourite destination.
The “skills, enthusiasm and passion for travel” that Marko and Alex demonstrated saw them beat off competition from 640 destinations and more than 110 different countries.
Alex and Marko’s journey can be followed on www.mydestination.com/bbb , the YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watchbbbtv and by chatting to the #MyBBB community on Twitter.
Key Trip Dates:
For information on specific activities planned and to arrange an interview in any of the planned destinations please contact Naomi at Southern PR
December 13 - 17: Queenstown
December 17 - 19: Wellington
December 19 - 22: Auckland
December 22 - 24: Rotorua